Starting Five: Alabama A&M (2-4) at Georgia Tech (6-4)
Tech takes on Alabama A&M Monday night at 7 p.m.
Dec. 18, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech tries for its first three-game winning streak of the season, hosting Alabama A&M at the Arena at Gwinnett. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.
Tech has won back-to-back road games but has been off for nine days. Their last time out, the Yellow Jackets routed Savannah State, 65-45, led by Brandon Reed's game-high 16 points and Daniel Miller's 12 points and four blocks. The Jackets limited the Tigers to 28.3 percent shooting, 25 percent from three. Tech led by seven at the half and used a 14-2 run coming out of the locker room to open up a 19-point bulge then cruised home.
The Bulldogs are playing their fourth game in a stretch of eight consecutive road games. They've struggled thus far, losing the first three, at Alabama, South Alabama and Michigan, by a combined total of 90 points. Saturday afternoon, A&M fell 87-57 to the Wolverines at Crisler Arena. Casey Canty had 15 points and five rebounds and Jeremy Ingram chipped in 14 off the bench, but the Bulldogs fell behind 13-2 coming out of the blocks and shot only 28.1 percent in the first half and only 32.3 percent for the game.
Today's game can be seen on line on ESPN3.com and, of course, can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network's flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Wes Durham and Randy Waters call the action. Fans also can catch the game on Sirius radio, channel 137 and follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.
Here now, the starting five for today's game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech has taken all three prevous meetings with Alabama A&M, all of them played in Atlanta, but the teams haven't met since Dec. 17, 2003. That night, the No. 5/6 Yellow Jackets thumped the Bulldogs, 74-41. Luke Schenscher took advantage of his 7-1 frame, which was five inches taller than the tallest A&M defender, to score a career-high 22 points, making 10-of-14 shots. No other Yellow Jacket had more than eight points. Tech went on a 24-2 run that broke a 6-6 tie, took a 41-19 lead into the locker room and led by as much as 36 in the second half. The other two meetings between the schools came in 1982, when Tech prevailed 90-85, and 1983, when Tech won 95-75.
Big, Bad Dan: Daniel Miller has bounced back in a big way from the season-low 1-for-8 shooting day at Tulane on Dec. 3. In Tech's two games since, at Georgia and at Savannah State, Miller has hit all 11 field goal attempts -- 5-for-5 at UGA, 6-for-6 at State. He's also getting it done on the defensive end of the floor, where he's blocked four shots in each game. Miller has recorded multi-block games in nine of Tech's 10 games this season.
Don't You Forget About Me: Miller hasn't been the only big man getting things done. Kammeon Holsey and Nate Hicks also have been outstanding. In the last two games, Holsey is shooting 62.5 percent (10-for-16) with 10 rebounds and, for the season, is shooting an ACC-best 68.1 percent, while Hicks continued to play his trademark stellar defense against Savannah State, pulling down three rebounds while knocking away a pair of shots. He had three total rebounds in the three games leading up to the meeting with the Tigers and had blocked two shots in the eight games heading up to Savannah State. The multi-block game was his second of the season. The first came on opening night against Florida A&M. Defensively, Miller, Holsey and Hicks held Tiger big men Rashad Hassan and Arnold Louis to a total of 12 points on 6-for 17 shooting. The duo came in averaging 21 points, shooting 50.4 percent.
Second-Half Hammer: Georgia Tech's defense has been getting stronger as games go on. Over the last five games, Yellow Jacket opponents are shooting 34.8 percent from the floor (47-for-135), with four of their opponents shooting below 35 percent. Take away Northwestern's 53.8 percent shooting (14-for-26) and Tech's four opponents are making just over 30 percent of their shots in second halves. In that same five-game span, opponents have shot 28.6 percent from three (12-for-42). Take away Northwestern's 37.5 percent (3-for-8) and opponents are at just over 27 percent.
Board Games: Going hand-in-hand with improved defense is improved rebounding. Georgia Tech's plus-8.2 leads the ACC in rebounding margin and is 17th in the country, while their 39.0 rpg ranks third in the conference. The Jackets have only been out-rebounded twice in their first 10 games (they were even once as well). Tech has been as impressive on the offensive glass, as their 11.5 orpg is 6th in the ACC and has led to 11.3 second-chance points per game.
The Sixth Man: After 10 games, Georgia Tech is 6-4, just like last season. But there is a difference, especially on the defensive end, and it's a big one. This season, Jackets opponents are shooting 36.1 percent. That's down from 44.0 percent last year. There's an even bigger drop-off from three, where opponents are hitting 33.3 percent as opposed to the 44.5 they hit after 10 games last year. On the glass, Tech also is vastly improved, as opponents are pulling down 30.8 rebounds per game, down almost four boards from last year's 34.3 rpg, and rebounding margin also is better, as Tech is plus-8-2 vs. plus-4.8 in 2010-11.
TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, Jr., 13.1 ppg
A&M LEADING SCORER: Casey Canty, 13.8 ppg
TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Daniel Miller, 7.6 rpg
A&M LEADING REBOUNDER: Demarquelle Tabb, 7.3 rpg.
TECH PPG: 65.5 ppg; OPP. PPG: 57.4 ppg.
A&M PPG: 64.0 ppg; OPP. PPG: 76.8 ppg.
A&M Player to Watch: Casey Canty: The 6-5 senior guard has hit for double-figures in five of A&M's six games and, on Saturday at Michigan, bounced back from a season-low six point effort, to score a team-high 15, while shooting 4-for-11, 2-for-6 from three. His 26 three-pointers lead the team, which is shooting 27.8 percent from three after hitting 9 of 23 against the Wolverines. His 74.0 shooting from the line also leads the squad.